February 12th, 2017
Children’s sermon (gift)
(It sounds) like the title of a high school valedictorian’s graduation speech. Choose life. Well, duh. That makes sense at the end of high school.
But this isn’t high school. Choose life. I guess that you could very easily sit back on your laurels, and say “I’ve chosen life” but what you really mean is that you are in a rut that has lasted for the past decade or two. No, that’s not choosing life. That’s choosing comfort.
Life is what happens to you while you are trying the meet your dreams. Life is what happens to your kids as they grow up before you know it. Life is what happens when aches become pains….and your body just slows way down.
(Moses) talked with the people he had led for 40 years in the desert. He knew them intimately. He buried their grandparents who died along the journey where hope led them every day. He watched those Egypt born kids grow up into adults, and have babies of their own. He dedicated those babies to the Lord God who was leading that nation of wanderers. And finally, they stood at the east bank of the Jordan River….and called them, each one of them to choose life.
(Those) ten letters are a mouthful. Moses was telling those people, hey, we can’t do what we’ve been doing for the past forty years. God isn’t going to send you manna every day to eat. God isn’t going to prepare a place for you and your family to move right into….no….this is a huge step in your life….and you need to decide now…right now…are you going to be satisfied with your old attitudes, understandings, traditions, and easy life-nothing ways? Or are you ready to step into a future that will be new, and untried, and untested. If you have a doubt this day…..I encourage you to choose life.
(I’m thinking) those ten letters are still on lots of your closet shelves. I’m thinking those ten letters have been replaced with “we’re doing it this way, like we’ve always done” because that is easy, simple, and can be done mindlessly.
(Do you) see the problem? If you live your life mindlessly…in the swing of your daily routine, but aren’t being challenged to learn new things, or understand old things differently, or dreaming new dreams….then, maybe Moses was telling those people….this ain’t no time to sit down and say “hey, I’m tired.” No way….Moses is saying it is time for you to choose how you will live into a future that has no measuring to it….because up until today you didn’t know anything about it. Look across the river….that is our new life. Choose life!
(Jesus) sermon on the mount was the same kind of call. You know what you’ve been taught…but a lot of water has passed under that bridge since first you learned it….so today, I am offering you something new. That law you live, I’m going stretch it for you….so you can see what this new life is that you are going to have to choose.
You know that killing thing…well, its bad. But getting angry with somebody is just as bad. I’m gonna change your life.
You know that divorce thing, men. I don’t need to ask the women, they already know how unfair it is that the man can say…go on now…. So, today, I’m telling you to honor your wife…..by keeping your eyes of those other women. Stop it. It ain’t good for your wife, and I promise it ain’t good for you. If you want to commit adultery….go ahead, but it will cost you your life and plenty more. I’m bringing a new way to this world….and you got to choose to follow what you always done….or step out into a new way of living….I encourage you to choose life.
I want to commend a movie to you. It is a movie that is laced with the power of choosing life. It is a movie of real people who choose to use the gifts God had given them, and despite the horrible way they were treated in the early 1960’s south….they (chose life) and lived it fully.
Hidden Figures tells the story of African American mathematicians, “computers” they called them….who worked for NASA on the first manned space shots. Amazing story of choosing life. They set their sights on a dream, on something no one had ever done before. And it was hard. And it was filled with errors, heart-break, and failure….but the promise of a future rose before those women…..and they chose to persist.
It can be a powerful thing when a woman persists despite their detractors.
(While) a portion of our world seems dead set on dragging us back fifty or more years to life in the 1950’s…..our heritage has been laid in the laps of explorers, and visionary dreamers, and courageous leaders who continue to stand up after a stumble, and despite falling with another failure….get up again, choosing life to bring the depth and breadth of what God has prepared for us.
(I mean) even the word faith is about choosing life, because it calls us to step into unknown directions, to learn how to do new things…and how to do old things new ways.
(I believe) on this 6th Sunday in Epiphany the call has been given to New Spirit, all of us together…..to choose life for this community. Will you need to come to understand something old in new ways? You bet. Will you need to let go of rut-hewn comfort for a spin with something new? Absolutely. And so, you’ll need to bring your heart…bring your scars, your fears, your pains, and lay them at Jesus feet!
(And then), together, bring to the fore that covenant promise we made some time ago, that said that this faith community would be different….intentional with God’s teaching….(willing) to step up to help, and step out to bring people into this community where Christ Jesus is our peace? (Choose life.)